Directing Peer Review Toward Global Writing Concerns

Professor Colleen Moore, Psychology Department, UW-Madison
Professor Colleen Moore directs students to answer questions that are listed in order from global to local concerns, modeling for students a smart method for responding to writing.
Peer Review Instructions
Read the paper, and comment on the draft. Note what isn’t clear, what sentences are awkward, etc.
  1. Write an outline (sometimes it helps to number the paragraphs when you do this).
    1. Find failures to follow through on “promises.” For example, if questions are posed in the introduction, are they answered later?
    2. Find problems in organization. What is out of place? Even if ideas aren’t out of place, can the sequence and logic be improved?
    3. Is there an introduction and a conclusion? How can those be improved?
  2. Make suggestions for improvement. Be kind and polite, but also helpful.
    1. Depth of analysis. Does the paper merely tell facts, or does it integrate the facts around a theme? Sometimes there is a theme that the author is not stating explicitly. Help the author go beyond fact-telling. What are the implications of findings, etc. (Telling facts won’t get you an A.)
    2. Is the author explaining concepts or just parroting jargon? If there is some special jargon that is important, help the author explain the meaning early in the paper so that the reader can understand the jargon.
    3. Are there any major misunderstandings that the author seems to have? What aren’t you understanding in what the author wrote? Are there gaps in the logic?
    4. Are there usages of words that are not quite right? If you aren’t sure, get out your dictionary and help the person out by looking up a couple of words that you’re not sure about.
    5. Are there places where you can see what the author is trying to say but is not quite saying it clearly? Help out with these.